By TERRANCE HARRIS, Associated Press
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — It wasn’t quite the week Johnathan Motley hoped to have during the Orlando Pro Summer League.
The Dallas Mavericks had more than enough capable player, making it hard for the undrafted rookie — limited by a healing knee injury — to get minutes. But with several key players already off to the Las Vegas Summer League on Thursday, Motely got his most expansive playing time and made quite an impression.
Motley had 18 points and 10 rebounds and hit a touch jumper in the lane to give undefeated Dallas an 83-81 overtime victory over the Detroit Pistons in the championship game.
“It means the world to me because I’ve been limited on minutes because of my knee and it kind of held my minutes down,” said Motley, who averaged seven points for the week. “I got to play a lot today and did some really good things.”
Motley was huge for a Mavs team that was missing four its top five scorers. The 6-foot-10 post player logged nearly 36 minutes and impressed with his jumping ability and versatility in the paint.
“I couldn’t be happier for him,” said coach Mike Weinar, whose team finished 5-0. “He was in the right place at the right time.”
The Mavericks, who made a habit this week of big comebacks, had perhaps their most impressive rallying effort after trailing a Pistons team with two first-round draft picks on the floor by 11 points in the second half. The Mavericks didn’t have any of their top prospects in Orlando, and top scorers Brandon Paul, Jameel Warney and Christian Wood were already off to Las Vegas to fulfill other contractual obligations, leaving a collection of G-League hopefuls to contend with the likes of top prospects Luke Kennard and Henry Ellenson for the Pistons.
Dwight Buycks, the only top scorer remaining, led Dallas with 28 points.
“We had three days of practice then hit Orlando and brought together a bunch of individuals and we ended the week as a team,” Weinar said. “This display of effort by our guys was incredible.”
Kennard showed the shooting touch that convinced the Pistons to take the Duke star with the 12th overall pick.
Kennard was 9 of 15 from the field, hitting all three 3-point attempts, to pace the Pistons with 24 points in the championship game. He hit a 3-pointer that tied it at 81 late in overtime.
A look at the day in summer league:
Charlotte second-round pick Dwayne Bacon seemed to get better as the week went along.
The former Florida State standout became the Hornets go-to scorer once Treveon Graham was held out for the final two games with a hamstring injury. The 6-foot-7 wing player scored in double figures in each of the Hornets’ final three games, finishing with his personal-best 29 minutes in lifting the Hornets to an 86-78 victory over Orlando in the fifth-place game.
Mavericks forward Ding Yanyuhang may have been the most interesting player of the week.
The Chines Basketball Association All-Star certainly has a lot to adjust to with the NBA game, but what he lacks in understanding he made up for in hustle and determination.
He played his best game of the week Thursday, finishing with 13 points, two assists and two steals, while converting 5 of 6 free throws.
Guard Bryn Forbes was the star for San Antonio in Utah after totaling 52 points in the previous two games. The second-year player had 21 points, three rebounds and three assists in a 94-86 loss to Philadelphia.
“He’s confident,” Spurs summer league coach Will Hardy said. “He’s just moves so well without the ball. He’s not just a guy who’s great in a catch-and-shoot situation. He’s great coming off screens. Has a much better game off the bounce than he gets credit for.”
Forbes said he’s been even more diligent in improving his game this summer and has switched up his diet. Gone are fried foods and sweets, mostly.
“I feel like I’m better than last year,” Forbes said. “I’m trying to lead a little bit more. Talk to the younger guys. Me just being more vocal, that’s a big step I’ve taken. I’ve always worked hard, but I got a look at the league and been there for a year and saw the things I need to do to change myself to be a good player here.”
FINALLY IN PHILLY
Philadelphia signed Furkan Korkmaz on Tuesday after the 2016 No. 26 pick decided to come over to the NBA from overseas. He scored three points in his debut Wednesday and 10 on Thursday. He was 2 of 4 from 3-point range against the Spurs.
“If you watch, his fluidity, his pace, his skill, his feel for the game — you can see the package,” 76ers summer league coach Billy Lange said. “As each minute adds up, as each touch adds up, as each shot adds up, as each possession adds up, he’s just going to become more comfortable. And then you’re going to just see the whole skill set he has.”
Korkmaz added, “Every day I try to think about it, how to get better and better. So I have to be better. I know that.”
A LITTLE SALTY
Jazz fans heartily booed the Celtics in the summer league, bitter from Gordon Hayward signing with Boston. There were several signs and jerseys in the stands making their feelings known. The variations included a sign that read “Betrayward #easywayout” and a jersey changing Hayward to “Coward” with duct tape.
The Jazz won 68-65.
Celtics forward Abdel Nader had his best game of the summer league against the Jazz. The 2016 NBA Development League rookie of the year found his groove with 17 points.
“We asked him to do a lot,” Celtics summer league coach Jerome Allen said. “We asked him to guard (Dante) Exum. We asked him to be the quarterback in terms of communication with our switches. We asked him to play a little bit at point guard. We asked him to set the kitchen table. We asked him to the rebound the ball.
“He fully left it on the floor. I’m quite sure after tonight’s game he’s probably a little fatigued. But I thought he did a good job. He competed and helped us make plays.”
Jazz No. 13 overall pick Donovan Mitchell guarded Celtics No. 3 pick Jason Tatum much of the night and Mitchell made him work for every little thing. Mitchell, known for his defensive prowess, had the crowd screaming during a two-possession stretch where he stripped Tatum of the ball then caused the former Duke player to fall to the ground with a spin move, then assisting on Julian Wright’s dunk.
“You just use days like this to get better,” Tatum said. “Every day isn’t going to be great and you have days like this. Just keep having fun. It’s basketball. So that’s what I’m going to keep doing.”
Mitchell specifically asked to guard Tatum in the second quarter.
“I didn’t really have a great offensive game, but defense travels,” Mitchell said. “Just not letting (Tatum) get comfortable. He hit his first two shots and he was really comfortable. I was just noticing the whole first quarter.
“Like I told my mom, the success is great, but at the end of the day this is summer league.”
Tatum finished with 12 points and 12 rebounds after being the best player on the floor through the first two days in Salt Lake City. Mitchell had eight points, four steals and a dazzling display of defense.
“I won’t say an education, but I will say give Donovan Mitchell a lot of credit,” Allen said. “He played extremely hard and defended and tried to attack on both ends of the floor.
“But for Jayson, that’s going to be the norm throughout the rest of his career. Guys are going to try to do whatever they can to impose their will on him to make it difficult for him to score the ball.”
— No. 1 overall pick Markelle Fultz did not play for the 76ers on Thursday night as a scheduled rest day.
— Dejaunte Murray, the Spurs 2016 No. 29 overall pick, did not play.
— Celtics forward Jaylen Brown did not play.
— Former All-Star Baron Davis, who has been working with Jazz guard Dante Exum, was in attendance sitting with Jazz coach Quin Snyder and GM Dennis Lindsey. Exum scored 16 points and added four assists, but won’t play in Las Vegas.
Associated Press NBA Writer Kareem Copeland contributed to this report.
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